Dr Binoy Barman
I get a lot of SMS greetings on different occasions, religious or secular, national or international. I receive the words of people's love and good wishes during Eid, Puja, Pahela Baishakh, Valentine's Day, etc and I feel happy. In return, I also wish people success and welfare on those occasions, and this I do mostly with SMS. This kind of exchange consolidates mutual trust and understanding among us. Thus SMS, though meant to be short, goes a long way towards bringing people close to each other.
People prefer SMS for the purpose of greetings for various reasons. It is easy and involves only a simple procedure in mobile phone. You write the message, press the send button and it flies off to the target. It's just a matter of minute. It saves sender's labour to buy a card, put his/her words and signature on it, wrap it in an envelope and then post it with stamp. Avoiding all these hazards, SMS can be sent any time one wishes -- day or night, holiday or working day, from anywhere -- home or office, from bed or roof, from bus or walk. The targeted person also receives it instantly. SMS is cost-effective. It is cheaper than other greetings systems. And the provision of group messaging cuts the cost further.
SMS is, however, considered to be an informal way of greetings. It may be sent to a person who is rather a close acquaintance. It is not intended for someone who is distant in relationship. SMS is akin to chatting, not taken with much seriousness. The receivers of SMS greetings are usually friends, relatives and colleagues. I've heard nowadays SMS is used for conveying greetings on birthday, wedding and even promotion. It can be deduced that its use will be more pervasive in days to come.
During greetings seasons mobile operators try desperately to woo the young generation with many competitive offers. As is the tendency, young people just jump at grabbing the opportunities without slightest thought. Sometimes they are provided with a good number of SMS free under certain packages. This makes them frolic. In composing greetings message, they forget their meal and study. As they are busy with writing and sending, the village parents might marvel at their skill of literacy and technology! By the way the mobile operators' profits bloat.
Some think that SMS is gradually replacing other modes of greetings, particularly the one accomplished with printed cards. It is true to a certain extent, I suppose. The cards of Azad Products, Hallmark and other printers are not found to be in hot sale during greetings hours lately. In fact, cell phones have caused slump in some other business, e.g. watch, calendar, calculator, which are offered as in-built facilities with the mobile sets. Nevertheless, for greetings cards, days are not gone. In formal situations, people still resort to cards for greetings. Prestigious companies and institutions send cards printed with attractive pictures and designs along with their identity logos to the clients or well wishers as souvenirs. This is a formality and a long established tradition worldwide.
We should admit, nonetheless, that SMS has been an integral part of our greetings culture. A new phenomenon though, it has been tremendously popular with the users of mobile phones, especially the young minds. People have already been well accustomed to sending and receiving short texts; in near future they will be elated with added features as photos and videos with SMS, to the accompaniment of voice and music. It will be a great fun then, won't it?
(The writer is Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Daffodil International University.)